WWI Commemorative Cruise in Picardy - Lille to Compiegne or vice versa
Commemorating the anniversary of World War One
Picardy is the cradle of Gothic art and architecture with its six splendid cathedrals, particularly France's monumental one in the capital of the region, Amiens. Picardy over the years has been a war-torn region that was often the place of invasions and battles. The two World Wars ripped through this region, leaving behind a fascinating legacy for visitors today, notably the battlefields of the Somme, now so tranquil.
Day 1: Wambrechies (near Lille) Guests are met at the *designated meeting point and transferred to the hotel barge moored in Wambréchies for a champagne welcome and introduction to your crew and barge. Time for a walk or cycle ride before an early dinner on board and an optional trip to the Menin Gate in Ypres for the daily sounding of the Last Post at 8pm.
Day 2: Wambrechies > Port a Vendin This morning we visit Ypres, which the Allied troops called "Wipers", and was the centre of intense and sustained fighting between German and Allied forces in WW1. The medieval Cloth Hall now houses the "In Flanders Fields" museum in Ypres - a poignant pictorial comment on the futility of the Great War. Here we will also visit some of the moving sites around Ypres - the Christmas Truce Cross, the Pool of Peace (Spanbroakmoelen) crater and the site where Lt. John McCrae wrote the moving poem "In Flanders Fields", the Essex Farm dressing station. Return to the hotel barge for a late lunch before cruising on the Rivers Deule and Scarpe through the historic city of Lille and on to Port a Vendin along the Canal du Nord. Dinner on board.
Day 3: Port a Vendin > Marquion This morning, we have a choice of visits. The first option is to drive to Fromelles, to visit the VC Corner cemetery at the Australian Memorial Park, where 400 unidentified soldiers lie. The cemetery was situated in no-man's land between the Allied and German lines, the scene of the first serious Australian involvement on the Western Front in 1916. We will also see the famous Cobbers statue and battlefield relics together with the Pheasant Wood Cemetery with its new extension, opened in 2010 after 200 British and Australian soldiers' bodies were exhumed there. Alternatively we visit Vimy Ridge, the site of the stunning Canadian National Memorial which is maintained by the Canadian Government in memory of their soldiers who fought in the Great War, and which dominates the surrounding landscape. We can also explore some of the network of trenches and tunnels which still criss-cross the site. Return to the barge for lunch and the afternoon cruise south through the town of Douai with its spectacular belfry to Marquion. Dinner on board.
Day 4: Marquion > Peronne Today we cruise south towards Peronne, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the Picardy countryside along the Canal du Nord, passing through the impressive 3 mile long Ruyaulcourt Tunnel. The canal itself was the scene of the Battle of the Canal du Nord in September 1918, being substantially destroyed and not reinstated until the 1960s. There remain a number of relics of the battle along the route including the New Zealand Tunnelers Bridge, built over the canal by Kiwi troops in 8 days under continuous German fire. After lunch our choice of visits includes Villers-Bretonneux, a village whose liberation in 1918 claimed over 1,200 Australian soldiers' lives. Every year, the ANZAC Day ceremony is held at the town's memorial where over 10,000 Australian servicemen are commemorated. Close ties still remain today between Australia and V-B. We then move on to Le Hamel, memorial site of General Monash's astounding 93 minute victorious battle over the Germans with his Australian and American forces. Alternative visits are to Bellicourt, where American and Australian tanks and troops successfully breached the Hindenburg Line in autumn 2018 in one of the most important American engagements of the war. We then return to the barge moored near Peronne, before dinner ashore at a local restaurant.
Day 5: Peronne > Noyon This morning, the canal passes by Peronne and then runs alongside the River Somme through countryside to our rural mooring a few miles north of Noyon. We enjoy lunch on board before visiting the site near Albert of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, where 23,000 men died on July 1st, 1916. We visit the moving Thiepval memorial, a monument to 75,000 "missing" from this battle, viewing the visitor centre with its wonderful archival film footage and photographs from the era and walking beside the actual trenches along parts of this ridge. Other sites which can be visited today include Newfoundland Park where the Newfoundland Regiment of 700 men was wiped out in 40 minutes that day, the huge Lochnagar crater created by a British mine attack, the South African memorial at Longueval and the famous little town of Pozieres with its nearby Gibraltar bunker, the ancient Windmill monument and infamous Tommy Café. Pozieres is where the AIF (Australian Imperial Forces) suffered more than 23,000 casualties in little more than six weeks. Dinner on board.
Day 6: Noyon > Compiegne This morning we join the River Oise to cruise to Compiegne. After lunch we go deep in to the Forest of Compiegne to the Armistice Clearing, site of the signing of the Armistice aboard a train on November 11th 1918. The clearing and its museum tell a fascinating story that stretches far beyond that historic day, as on board this famous train was also where Hitler insisted that the French capitulate to Germany in 1940. Captain's Farewell Dinner on board.
Day 7: Compiegne This morning after breakfast, we say farewell to the crew and transfer to the *designated drop off point.
*The designated meeting point is Brussels and the drop off point is Paris.
Please note: This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change. Where possible, we will try to adapt the visits to reflect the interests and nationality of guests on board.
Vessel La Belle Epoque is a spacious, luxurious hotel barge and sister ship to L'Impressionniste. Although she originally carried logs from Burgundy to Paris, she was skilfully converted into a delightful hotel barge.
She has been designed with both elegance and passenger comfort in mind and offers a sun deck with spa pool, wood-panelled saloon/dining room and other luxury amenities.
She is also fully air-conditioned. The spacious cabins offer a choice of twin or double beds with marble en suite facilities. The Captain leads a crew of six comprising Master Chef, Deck-Hand, Tour Guide and two Housekeepers.
• Return transfers from meeting point in Paris to the barge • Accommodation in air conditioned ensuite cabins • All gourmet meals aboard and ashore • A champagne welcome • Select regional wines and alcoholic beverages consumed onboard. • Excursions and entrance fees as per the itinerary • Use of bicycles and other hotel barge facilities such as a spa pool • Local transfers to and from the designated meeting point
Pricing (per person) $AUD
Departs 2015 Departure Dates
Apr 05 (Reverse Itinerary); 12
2015 Departure Dates Sunday Apr 05 (Reverse Itinerary); 12
Booking conditions La Belle Epoque can be chartered for a minimum of 10 passengers - please contact World Journeys for details.
La Belle Epoque can be chartered for a minimum of 10 passengers - please contact World Journeys for details.
Not included • Air transportation
• Airport taxes
• Superior Chateaux vintage wines
• Optional activities such as hot air balloon flights
• Items of a personal nature
• Communication charges
• Any additional purchases.
• Air transportation • Airport taxes • Visas • Insurance • Superior Chateaux vintage wines • Optional activities such as hot air balloon flights • Items of a personal nature • Communication charges • Any additional purchases.